Helman Roman, a relative newcomer to the handbike, wasn't expecting such a grind during Sunday's Boston Buildup 25-kilometer race in Norwalk. "Boy, that was tough,'' said Roman, a 42-year-old resident of Manchester. "It's a good race course, and the beginning is really flat. After that, it seems like it's all uphill. It's a good course to prepare for the Boston Marathon."

Roman was injured while serving with the U.S. Army. Both of his legs were shattered in Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2009, when a bomb exploded underneath the armored car he was commanding. He spent a lengthy recuperation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., and attended the inauguration of President Obama.

He has learned to walk again and got into handbiking last May at a friend's suggestion. Roman has competed in half-marathons in New Haven and Hartford and rolled through the ING New York Marathon in 2010 in 2:51.44. He was 47th in the 83-person handbike field.

Marcus Suppo paced Roman in the Norwalk race on a bike. "This is a suitable exercise for me,'' Roman said. "It's all in your arms. Especially on a course like this, you can really feel it. It's incredible."

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